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Friday, August 18, 2006

The Shifting Castes of Indian Scribes

Was reading a old Times of India article (December 8, 1996) by Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar - one of the reasons why The Sunday Times of India becomes more readable - where he takes a historical look at corporate reporting in the Indian media.

Four decades ago (he says three but its been ten years since the article was published) this was the hierarchy:

When I joined the profession three decades ago, I found it had an implicit caste system. The brahmins were the ones reporting on the Congress, the Prime Minister and External Affairs Ministry. Lower down came reporters covering other political parties. Lower still were those reporting on economic and social Ministries. And the bhangis at the bottom were the stock market reporters. I am told this was not true of Bombay, but it was certainly true of New Delhi, where I worked. The correspondents covering economic Ministries were horrified if anybody mistook them for stock market reporters.

Three decades later

The old brahmins of journalism, the political and foreign affairs reporters, were mortified to find that suddenly the bhangis were getting the maximum pay. This was more than a social revolution. It meant that for the first time newspapers were paying enough to attract chartered accountants and MBAs.

And today...

6 Comments:

--Sunrise-- said...

Slightly off-topic, can i add you to my blogroll?

b v n said...

dont you think this thread would make a good book...the other day i was thinking abt the IT industry and the very high percent of Brahminsa and Hindu upper castes in it...this is dangerous territory...cant write more :)

b v n said...

but it would make a good read for sure :)

Soumyadip said...

Sunrise Yes! Yes! Yes! Blogroll presence is an honour.

BVN A book on caste and profession sell, if you could generate some controversy.

But Swaminathan Aiyar was describing the beat-based caste system which is present in the media rahther than the birth-based.

b v n said...

Gotcha !! but i was talkin about birth based castes

Appu said...

Sammy, nice one. Shows that that reservation is not the only way to change our social structure.

Anyways, how do i add you to my blogroll?